This is Endurance Riding
|August 19, 2016||Posted by Melinda under Uncategorized|
If you’ve been here a while you know that along with being depicted as a magical rainbow farting unicorn, Farley can also be an absolute nag. On good conditioning rides I still have to bite my teeth and exercise a bit of patience as we work out ONCE AGAIN that yes, conditioning IS necessary and while I will try to minimize what is obviously so tedious to the mare, going down the trail on a non-race day is the price of being able to have fun on rides. This is Farley’s normal. I’ve accepted it. We have an understanding and I try keep it fun for her, and she at least half way tries.
On Wednesday Farley took it to a whole ‘nother level.
It was the ride of not winning. In any way, shape, or form. Not going away from the trailer, not going towards the trail. Not when allowed to walk for a while (HOURS). Not when the crop was used. Not when I gave her every chance to show me that something, ANYTHING, was physically wrong.
What I learned on Wednesday’s ride was that if mare doesn’t want to do something, the mare isn’t going to do it.
It was the longest 10 miles of my life and a far cry from the 20 or something I thought we would get done.
By the end of the three hours of mostly walking and prodding I’d like to say that I had accomplish something as I worked on connection and rhythm and a deep-seat. But in reality I was trying to disassociate myself into a trance and magically transport us to the end.
Here’s why I’m sharing this.
This also is endurance riding.
Along with the ride completions and the ride pulls. And along with the awesome photographs and the funny ones. The miles ridden on the trail where you feel like you’re one. And the tears and the struggles when nothing goes to plan.
This ride is as much endurance as all that and that’s why I needed to share this ride with you.
I’m open to the notion that Farley might retire herself. There are horses in the sport that have done just that. Tell the rider is no uncertain terms that they are done, and for no foreseeable physical reason they are turning in their ride card.
So far Farley hasn’t given me any indication at an actual ride. but I’ll be listening closely at Camp Far West (This was our last ride before doing a 50 at Camp Far West).
It’s interesting to think of Farley quitting for non-physical reasons. I’ve always thought it would be an injury or something else physical or chronic. Having a perfectly sound experienced horse decide to pull the plug and not do distance any more is intriguing and (I’ll admit) a little exciting.
The mental game MATTERS as we have discussed over and over. Just like some horses aren’t mentally suited to this sport from the beginning, if an experienced horse decides that it doesn’t want to do it anymore, I think we’ve got to respect that even if physically they are fine (and there’s no indication that Farley’s behavior is due to pain).
Conditioning is part of this sport and if I get to the point where I can’t find trails she enjoys to condition on, I will be faced with retiring her no matter how much she enjoys the actual rides. She is thoroughly sick of the trails at home, and at Oroville (where we were on Wednesday). I don’t think it was a coincidence that I got some great conditioning on DIFFERENT trails last month. So even with this horrible ride, it’s not quite time to throw my hands up and give up.
I’m looking forward to Camp Far West. Will she do it? Will she say no thanks? It’s a local, no pressure ride. Perfect to be completely attuned to what Farley is telling me.
Skip has a very experienced horse who retired himself from distance riding. He now happily does eventing. I agree… It’s fascinating and we owe it to them when they tell us their minds aren’t in it anymore.
Farley proves that horses not only have feelings, but emotions, preferences, and opinions. One of my stallions who excelled at everything he did was a World and National Champion reiner. Then he quit. I could MAKE him, but it was such a chore and the maneuvers lacked the brilliant ease he was known for. He would gladly do as I asked unless it included a spin or sliding stop. He always stopped correctly on his hindquarters, but he knew what a set-up for a slide was and he wasn’t feelin’ it. He communicated. Perfectly. I quit asking him. After all he gave me over the years, the least I could do was listen.
I know you’ll take the conversation with Farley to its end.